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PM to support amendments to Smith marriage bill in lower house

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he will support some amendments to Senator Dean Smith’s cross-party marriage bill when it reaches the House of Representatives next week.

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The bill, which was debated over three days in the Senate this week, passed the upper house unamended – despite numerous attempts from Liberal Senators James Paterson, David Fawcett and George Brandis, among others.

Of the amendments put forward, the Prime Minister says he will support changes to the bill that would allow civil celebrants to refuse service and checks to ensure that charities would not be affected by the new laws.

On Wednesday, Turnbull told media that the bill in the state in which is passed the Senate, “does not impose any restrictions on religious freedoms at all.”

“[The PM] supports protections for religious freedom, including safeguards for the legal status of charities,” a spokesperson for Turnbull’s office told The Guardian.

“As well as provisions that would ensure that marriage celebrants are able to decline to solemnise marriages which they do not wish to solemnise.”

Labor have pledged not to support any amendments to Senator Smith’s bill, which also has the support of Greens’ Adam Bandt, Nick Xenophon Team’s Rebekha Sharkie and independent Andrew Wilkie.

Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch, a long-time supporter of marriage equality, has also promised to vote for the bill in its current state, which could see the bill unimpeded in the lower house in the absence of the government’s John Alexander and Barnaby Joyce – who are facing byelections.

“The reality is it has been dealt with comprehensively in the Senate. It has been overwhelmingly supported,” Entsch said.

“Any attempt to disrupt the process by putting out amendments that compromise the intention [to pass the bill unamended] is going to be very fraught for those involved.”

OIP Staff


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